At this point my hopes for a quick recovery are gone. The news from the south coast, especially New Orleans, is as bad as the news from southern Asia this past winter (minus the terrible body count).
What has happened to New Orleans is affecting me a lot more than what happened in Asia. Iâ€™ve been to New Orleans twice for two short weekends; once in the summer and once in the winter. The first time was enough for me to become enchanted with the smelly, historic city. The second time convinced me I had to go for at least a week to really enjoy it. I never made time for New Orleans again. I regret that decision.
New Orleans was like Las Vegas, but a lot more laid-back and without the gambling (but still with as many panhandlers as Vegas). What happened in New Orleans stayed in New Orleans; but only if you could remember what happened anyway. Both times I went it was incredibly humid and always stinky. A native remarked that people drank to stop noticing the smell. I think people drank because it was the town hobby. You could walk up and down the streets, bar-hopping and dancing. Every place had a two-drink minimum and there were drink stalls along the street. It doesnâ€™t mean you have to get out of control, but you end up having more than you think. (I imagine that liquor stores are being looted right now as a food staple.).
The restaurants were great, no matter where you stopped in. Basically, just pick a spot. No need to worry about the quality of your dinner. And for the next morning, there were little diners here and there serving the fried foods that Southerners love; putting a soothing coat of grease on your delicate stomach (maybe this is a Southern hangover remedy, but it works).
All that, and a whole lot more, are gone. My mother was born in the house with the cornstalk fence (now a hotel). That famous fence is under water and will be for at least the next month, they say. If there is a Mardi Gras this coming year, it will be a miracle and a real reason for celebration. But I donâ€™t have a lot of hope. (Of course, that begs the very serious question: where will Girls Go to Get Wild?)
Iâ€™m aware of the myriad economic implications of this disaster. Iâ€™m aware of an entire region of newly-homeless people. What affects me most is that this great city, which has weathered so much, is ruined. The old buildings that are still standing wonâ€™t be able to survive the rot caused by the water and filth. They will be torn down once the city is drained. What makes New Orleans New Orleans wonâ€™t be there anymore. Who wants to go to a French Quarter thatâ€™s new and clean? What is going to become of the beautiful Garden District? Will the city be able to host jazz festivals anytime soon? Something that I liked so much is gone and I didnâ€™t even properly appreciate it.
I didnâ€™t lose my home and no one that I personally know has been displaced. This is just a short piece of sad appreciation for a city that I have a soft spot for.